The Inanity of COVID-19 Testing
No wonder Europe disinvited the US from summering in the Mediterranean.
The times are getting stranger and stranger, but there is something cold and, frankly, terrifying about living in a moment in the United States where getting tested for a contagious virus has become not only politicized, but also increasingly fraught and complicated.
With the nonstop COVID-19 coverage interrupted by nonstop coverage of endemic, institutional racism in the US, it’s easy to forget that we are in a public health crisis. It becomes downright forgettable when minimizing a pandemic becomes a partisan rallying cry for the President of the United States and his followers.
The rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump, supported by his protectors in his administration and Congress and underscored by his allies at the state and local level, doesn’t apply to him or anyone in his cohort (wealthy, powerful, mostly white, and male), but it has deleterious effects on the country, you know, the one frequently referred to but infrequently considered.
When Mr. Trump refers to COVID-19 testing as a “double-edged sword” because “by having more tests, we have more cases,” and therefore has exhorted to his people to “slow the testing down, please,” it is not a joke. It is not sarcasm. It is a directive that has actual consequences.
After a few days of feeling unwell, my sister, who is 26, decided to get tested. She, my mother, and my other sister researched how. I listened to their growing frustration as they were: quoted appointment dates two weeks to one month out; put on hold and then dropped; told that the site is closed or will be closing; given two numbers to contact but then told to make an appointment online, only to find the online system defunct; and spoke to agents who laughed, chewed gum, and mispronounced city names.
My sister managed to schedule an appointment for June 26th. Barring a trip to the ER, she would have to wait four days to take a test. And over those four days, the pandemic suddenly became real again. Records were reported being smashed like it’s…